Ali Hassan Kuban - The Rough Guide to Ali Hassan Kuban (2002)

«Another solid installment in the Rough Guide series of artist retrospectives, this compilation sums up the career of a Nubian music legend. Nubia – once the land of Kush, and today part of Egypt and Sudan – was substantially flooded with the construction of the Aswan dam during the 1950s. By then, Kuban had already moved from the village where he grew up to the Nubian quarter of Cairo. An early brush with lung disease nearly ended his career, and it may have something to do with his soulfully ragged vocals: even as a young man, he sounded old. That ailment, coupled with his affection for jazz band of the era, also inspired Kuban to develop a band that could really support him, including brass and sometimes string sections that could take melodies in call-and-response with the vocal. Working this way, Kuban transformed the complex trance rhythms of Nubian villages into entrancing urban pop music.

This set samples Kuban's four great international releases, and adds two unreleased live tracks and a crisp performance from a radio appearance the band did in Germany in 1989. "Mabruk" with its light, brass-driven swagger, and "Sukkar Sukkar Sukkar," featuring Kuban's characteristic camel-clop groove and a warbling blend of brass melody and organ, were early hits and helped to win him international recognition. Kuban seems to have performed far more than he recorded, but there's certainly plenty of great material to draw upon. The tunes from his 1992 Walk Like a Nubian album are particularly satisfying, seeming to capture the band in it prime on the tumbling, soulful "Habibi," and "Bettitogor Agil (The Girl Sitting under the Date Palm Tree)" with its lush lend of flute, horns, strings, and percussion.

Some of the songs echo urban pop trends, like the hint of reggae in "Mabrouk Wo Arisna," or of shaabi in "Hela Houb." But although Kuban was certainly a modernizer willing to extend and transform Nubian music, the authentic feel of the village definitely remains a strong element in his sound, especially on a percussion and vocal oriented track like "Walla Abshero" and on swirling trance grooves with gorgeous chant melodies like "Gammal," the standout track from Real Nubian, the last album Kuban completed before his death in 2001.» (Banning Eyre, Afropop)

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Radu said...

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Anonymous said...

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the file is missing tracks 1-3

please let me know if you fix this.

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